Kevin Warren

Kevin Warren denies conversations with other municipalities as a ‘negotiation tactic'

The Bears have conversed with other suburbs since declaring Arlington Heights is no longer a 'singular focus.'

NBC Universal, Inc.

On June 16, the Chicago Bears released a statement regarding their detachment from their Arlington Heights property as a "singular focus."

“The Chicago Bears' goal of building the largest single development project in Illinois history led by billions of dollars in private capital investment, and the jobs and economic benefits generated, is at risk in Arlington Heights. The stadium-based project remains broadly popular in Arlington Heights, Chicagoland and the state. However, the property’s original assessment at five times the 2021 tax value, and the recent settlement with Churchill Downs for 2022 being three times higher, fails to reflect the property is not operational and not commercially viable in its current state. We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus. It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the State of Illinois.”

Shortly after, the Bears began conversing with other municipalities outside of Arlington Heights. Naperville, Waukegan, Aurora and the city of Chicago entered the picture for hosting the Bears' new stadium location.

Side note: as it stands with Soldier Field, it looks grim. Warren said Monday "We do need a new home for the Chicago Bears," rendering the possibility of the Bears returning to their current home improbable.

MORE: Kevin Warren says Bears ‘need a new home,' potentially ruling out Soldier Field's future

As for the others, they're all in the picture. At first, pundits chalked up the Bears' reception for calls as a "negotiating tactic" to drive the property assessment down and influence a lower annual tax payment.

According to Warren, however, it's not a tactic.

“This is not about the Chicago Bears trying to come in and take advantage of everyone,” Warren said. “It’s the opposite. It’s about the Chicago Bears finding a partner.”

“Once we have a legitimate partner, we will move forward,” Warren said. “If that’s in Arlington Heights, great. If it’s somewhere else, that’s great too.”

Officials from three local school districts – Palatine, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, and Palatine-Schaumburg District 211 – and the Cook County Assessor set the value of the Arlington Park property at $197 million, a massive increase from the $33 million assessment in 2021. This forced a higher annual tax payment than expected at $7.9 million per year.

This forced the Bears to look in a new direction, away from the property they purchased in February. Warren mentioned the Bears and those involved in the process in Arlington Heights have not spoken for some time, too.

Alas, the perceived "negotiation tactic" many of us believe Warren deployed is simply not a tactic, but a legitimate move. The odds of the Bears and Arlington Heights shaking hands on a property value, and thus a stadium, are seemingly low.

The Bears will entertain conversations with other municipalities simply because those who are interested potentially won't create the obstacles Arlington Heights has. Naperville, Waukegan and Aurora have expressed their interest in the Bears, leading one to believe they could be better suitors for the Bears.

The Bears need to find a place where they're wanted and won't have to endure an arduous road of tax assessments and growing concerns from the municipality about traffic and public funding. No one place out there can provide a perfect setup for the Bears to come steamrolling in with a massive stadium.

But maybe there is a place out there that won't provide as much trouble as Arlington Heights.

All in all, this is what good business people do, like Warren. They turn over every stone possible to make the correct decision for their business. Right now, Arlington Heights doesn't appear to be their best option. Instead of sitting back, Warren took action.

In the end, Arlington Heights will determine whether Warren's "negotiating tactic" really is that, or a real move to find a new home for the Bears.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us